Atlanta Focuses on Job Growth

Atlanta is on an economic high. With an unemployment rate of 5.1%, Atlanta currently has the lowest rates since the fall of 2007, shortly before the Frank/Greenspan recession struck. The city’s economic growth rate was more than double the job growth during an average June over the previous five years.

This year signifies a substantial dip in unemployment rates. In June, the unemployment numbers dropped to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent the previous month. Just over a year ago, the rate stood at 5.3 percent.

After two consecutive months of job losses, the city has recovered, according to the US Labor Department. On the downside, several blue collar sectors have been hit – manufacturing and construction lost jobs.  

When it comes to the long-term, the forecast in terms of job growth for Atlanta is largely positive. The economy added 122,600 jobs in the past year.  [1] 

Here is a brief look at the salient features of the past year’s major developments:

Hospitality jobs are hot, construction not so much

Almost 135,000 people have been added to the job market, which represents the fastest growth in the US at 3.3%. This increase, while mostly attributed to migration within the states, is also likely to have a connection to new graduates searching for jobs.

The labor force numbers rose by 3,397 in June 2017. Topping the job market in Atlanta is corporate employment, otherwise known as professional and business services. The corporate sector turned in 1,800 jobs.

The Information Technology (IT) sector was up by 1,100 jobs. Construction was up 2,700 jobs, and financial services were up 400 jobs. [2]

Significant growth was observed in leisure and hospitality, which added 9,200 jobs. Other services such as maintenance and food related services added 5,700 jobs. Health and education showed an increase of 5,600 jobs. Up 2,100 jobs were state and local government jobs. Financial services were also up 1,000. [3]

There were no remarkable developments in terms of companies or start-ups choosing to relocate to Atlanta. But UPS subsidiary Coyote added 325 sales and customer service jobs. [4] Coyote uses personalized software and personnel for managing shipments of companies.

However, the big winner that may finally emerge could be the construction industry. Atlanta’s real estate developers and building owners may receive a boost due to professional job growth trends and tech companies. Office space is now hot property thanks to the tech sector, and the younger demographic is out to get mixed-use spaces. Millennials are the new target, and Atlanta is gearing up to welcome them. [5]

Minimum Wage Increases to Take Effect in FY2018

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that the city, over the next two years, will raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour– starting with $13 per hour in Fiscal Year 2018.

Four additional compensation actions were approved by the Atlanta City Council as amendments to the $2.1 billion budget. One-third of the workforce will be affected by these measures, and the new pay is already effective from July 1st, 2017.

Workers who make less than $150,000 per year in all categories will see a three percent increase in salaries.

Financial Managers $67.17 $71.48
Computer Systems Analysts $45.89 $44.05
Registered Nurses $32.63 $34.70
Customer Service Representatives $17.46 $16.91
Construction Laborers $17.00 $18.22
Retail Salespersons $12.25 $13.07
Cashiers $9.63 $10.43
Waiters and Waitresses $9.25 $11.73
Cooks, fast food $8.99 $9.89
Increase in population, with just one catch

According to data released by the Atlanta Regional Commission, between April 2016 and April 2017, Atlanta added a whopping 78,300 new residents. The Atlanta region is now home to 4,480,100 people, a population higher than that in 24 states. Many people are coming from NYC [12] and other high tax areas of the northeast.

Since the last recession, the area’s population increase was the highest, seeing a rise by 1.8 percent, compared to 1.6 percent in 2016.

A general slack in the labor force has, however, not shown up in the unemployment numbers. Much of this has to do with the share of the average working age of the population that is either working or on the lookout for a job.

If the share of people working in 2000 is the same as the current share, more than half a million would be inducted into the labor force.

These, according to economists, are the missing workers. Some can be attributed to early retirement and some who lost jobs. There is also a possibility of workers who earn money and do not disclose their earnings to the government.